Research geared to meet women’s special needs.
A total of almost 400 drugs are now in various stages of development to meet the special needs of women. The drugs, many of which offer innovative therapeutic approaches, are intended to treat diseases that either disproportionately affect women or are among the leading causes of death. The top causes of death in women are heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, diabetes, adverse drug reactions, Alzheimer’s disease, nephritis and septicemia.
Cancer drugs are far in the research lead. Between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, the incidence rate for lung cancer more than doubled and the death rate rose 182% in women. Of the 94 drugs being developed for cancer in women, 44% are targeted for breast cancer, 30% are for lung cancer and 20% for ovarian cancer. Uterine cancer, including endometrial cancer, is the most common malignancy of the female genital system, followed by ovarian cancer. The second largest number of investigational drugs are for obstetric/gynecologic disorders.
Much attention has been paid to cancers in women, but cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Heart attacks alone claim 250,000 lives annually and of those women who suffer a heart attack, 44% die within a year, compared to 27% of men. Cur-rently, 48 drugs are in development for cardiovascular disease.
Women suffer high incidences of musculoskeletal disorders. Osteoporosis, for example, affects one in every four women past age 50. And about 23 million women, including half of women over 65 years of age, suffer from arthritis. A total of 55 drugs are being developed to treat musculoskeletal disorders.
Women are 60% more likely than men to experience major depression. Most of the antipsychotic drugs in research are for treatment of depression.